2018

This time last year, I was freaking out a little bit. I had quit my job, didn’t have anything lined up apart from occasionally CRTing, and I was looking down the barrel of 6 months of no real routine.

I started putting in place things to do on certain days- a faux routine that would see me through these uncertain months before I left for Thailand.

Looking back, it’s clear I wasn’t fully committed to this trusting God with everything- letting go of control- thing I had written so much about.

Fast forward 12 months later and I still don’t have it down pat, but it’s definitely getting easier. I’m getting better, in all sorts of ways.

2018 is another year of change for me- I’m travelling until April, when I arrive in Melbourne with no job but with good friends and connections which will hopefully see my CRTing and tutoring while looking for a new one. 2018 also sees me going to the UK- a choice I made today after seeing cheap flights… clearly some part of me has changed- I’m normally a bit scared to book things on whims, so this is a good step I think! And beyond that, I don’t know what else 2018 will bring.

I’m going to be working my way through a devotional book based on Proverbs- the first two studies have discussed the nature of wisdom- what it is, what it isn’t. Already, I can feel God pushing a theme for my year onto my heart

Wisdom- seeking it out and seeking the one who is and gives all wisdom.

Making wise- though not necessarily cautious or timid- choices

Encouraging others in wisdom

Learning from wise people I come into contact with and learning with them

Spending my time and money wisely- though not with miserly tendencies in either case

Treating my body wisely, exercising well, eating well and listening to what its saying to me

As I walk into 2018, I look forward to seeing what I will learn, how I will grow, what I will gain and what I will lose (rice fat!). I invite you to walk with me- what do you think your theme for the year will be?

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Revisiting a shared memory…

I’ve never been to Malaysia before. I’ve never even had a layover there. I’ve never had reason to use my tiny amount of Bahasa Indonesian which is leftover from years 3-8 and so very similar to Bahasa Malay…

But sometimes I feel like I have.

Not so much because so many of my closest friends have their ancestral roots in Malaysia and so when they travel to visit their families I see lots of photos and hear lots of tales of the malls of KL and the splashes of the theme park there.

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More because of my own family history. Despite the fact that I am as white bread as they come, I have my own roots laid down in Malaysian soil. My granddad was in the RAAF and as you may be aware, there is an Australian Air Force base situated in Penang which he was stationed at for about 2 and a half years. My grandmother, mother and two uncles joined him and lived there, in the humidity and the heat and exotic haze- a family of five forever intertwined with the cultural heritage of that tiny island which is already so culturally diverse.

So, when I set foot there and hopped on a bus across the island- I didn’t feel so much like a foreigner, but more like someone who was returning to a dream. I’d heard so much about this place of fresh seafood straight from street vendors who didn’t just pass on their wares, but also the dirtiest words of their language to my infant uncle; this land of Chinese Swimming Clubs and monsoonal rains; this land of murtabak and chilli and curries and the call to prayer. I was prepared for the experience of revisiting this new/old place to feel strange but I don’t think I was quite as prepared as I originally thought.

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Walking through Georgetown- with it’s heritage listed status and therefore it’s unchangedness- was like walking through a faded postcard. The houses were colourful, magical… an explosion of nostalgia and history which ticked every box I have. Cycling through the relatively quiet streets- especially on a cool Sunday morning- to explore and discover the street art before the hordes of tourists with selfie sticks descended only enhanced the feeling that I shared more than I knew with this old-new-familiar-foreign place. When I rode through the city to a hipster filled market, I knew that Penang knew me better than I ever thought it could.

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When I booked my flights to Penang, I wanted- more than anything- to visit the house, or at least the area, my family lived in. I love and miss everyone who lived there very much at the moment and my granddad passed away 5 years ago now. I thought by visiting their old neighbourhood, I’d feel their presence so strongly and while I was hoping for this- I didn’t really expect it.

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But when I arrived at the address and the trees were large and the house looked old- foreign- amongst the redone and renovated town houses surrounding it, I could feel the ghosts surrounding me. This was more than I hoped for. This was authentic and this road was the one my uncles and mum walked along everyday on their way to school. This tree which was once small, now shades the window of my mum’s old bedroom. This home housed my Grandma and Granddad, protecting them against the lashings of monsoonal rain- the cool tiles providing some comfort from the tropical heat. My uncle had a paddling pool in the front yard where there is now a motorbike. This house, this place, was a part of my history- despite the fact that my skin was now, after riding there in the hot morning sun, bright red- a feature that belies my EnglishIrishScottish blood.

The illusion of belonging was broken a little when a lady peeked out of the curtains- reminding me that this is not just mine and I am very much an outsider in this street, city, island, country, continent- but belonging is more than skin, it’s more than blood, it’s about where you feel you belong and where the people accept you.

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After my journey to the past, I rode to the aforementioned hipster market and got talking to a lady selling kefir (because of course I did). She asked what I had been doing in Penang and I told her that I had just visited my mother’s old house. She smiled wide and said she remembered fondly the Australian officers who worked in Penang and Butterworth, remembered the makeshift bars and remembered the RAAF school which my mum and uncle attended. She said- honestly and genuinely- that I should bring my mother and grandmother back with me next time, that she would take us to the places they would know, they would remember. She said “welcome back” to me.

Belonging is about how you feel, where you feel accepted, where you feel a part of a shared past.

And Penang- against all odds- held that for me.

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//

Also- I wish Identity and Belonging was still a part of the English curriculum because dayum, sample piece for Mind of a Thief for days…

I’ll post more about what I actually DID in Penang soon. I just felt like writing something other than what would essentially be a review post.

5 minute Friday- Breathe

If you’re a regular reader, you know the drill. Friday is my day to take 5 minutes to do some free writing based on a prompt provided by the wonderful Kate Motaung and share it with the whole 5 minute Friday community. Today’s prompt is breathe.

I want to be a tree.

Why?

Because the state of the world today is infusing within me a deep sense of uncertainty, confusion, despair and shame.

I hate observing these images of tiny children made smaller by the weight of ravaging survival pulling them closer to the depths

I wish I could block out the fear mongering speeches of men- and women- who have known nothing but red hot privilege- relative though it may be- as they point their ringed fingers at those who are seeking just a fraction of those hands hold

I wish I could stand as a shield and absorb the proclamations of hate which respond to the shrill dog whistle broadcast by those who cannot claim ignorance but target those who, in vulnerable bliss, do not need to

But I can’t.

All I can do is make like a tree;

breathe in this toxic air and breathe out life, kindness, fact and hope that those who need it most will fill their lungs with deep, gulping, gasps.

5 Minute Friday- control

If you’re a regular reader, you know the drill. Friday is my day to take 5 minutes to do some free writing based on a prompt provided by the wonderful Kate Motaung and share it with the whole 5 minute Friday community. Today’s prompt is control.

Oh boy.

Hold.

the clock counts down
and
i
can’t
stop
it
no matter how hard i try to hold the hands it trickles
down like/

sand
of old into nothing and everything
all at once.

reminders of tick tocking, mark docking rulers of old life
and future strife
and i strive to not become one of those
stealers of the most precious

value of a second when it’s paused/

3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1…

/is infinite but elusive and your fiction is my fate and now all i

must

do is wait and revel in my lack of watches and the constant waves

i feel- for that is all that matters now fact is stagnant- the swelling sense of

no time not on time no direction nor any protection and no way to escape the inevitable breaking of

/barriers long stacked up and backed up/

and it’s obvious what’s being done but i

still

just want to wind up holding//

 

maybe You can hold my hand instead?

5 Minute Friday

Linking up with other bloggers is one thing I’d love to do as I embark on this journey and one way I want to do that is by joining blog events such as this writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung at Heading Home. It’s exactly what it sounds like- there’s a prompt set up and you free write (no editing, no planning, no over thinking… just WRITE) for those 5 minutes. Sounds like fun and everyone can take 5 minutes out  of their day to stimulate their thinking muscles.

Join us!

Today’s prompt was “MIDDLE”

My writing:

Summer holidays. But it’s not really holidays anymore. I’m just unemployed- but the next stage has not yet begun- I’m not in routine. I don’t have a CRT wake up call to hope for. My schedule is made up by what I, not my future tutoring students, decide to pencil in.

January. It’s between the rush of Christmas and the anticipation of back-to-school-birthday-month madness that I’ve always felt most productive and PRESENT. There were lessons to plan and people to see and places to go and now?

Now, that time of rest stretches on to the beyond and is without an end in sight.

That’s terrifying.

And that’s ok.

And I just need to embrace being in the middle of two great, big adventures and accept that this may actually  be another one all on its own.

END.

It’s been a while since I’ve done free writing and it’s so liberating and natural but goes against all my perfectionist tendencies. Maybe that’s why it’s called “free writing”.